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How Does the GI Bill Work?

Let’s begin with the basics. The G.I. Bill, also known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, was initially introduced in 1944 to provide returning World War II veterans with a range of benefits, including educational opportunities. Over the decades, the law has been expanded and revamped, and a new G.I. Bill, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, was introduced.

Types of G.I. Bills

The Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB) is available to all service members and veterans. However, another G.I. Bill is available to certain service members. This new G.I. Bill, known as the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, was signed into law in 2008 by George W. Bush. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill introduced some much-needed revisions. It provides education benefits for service members who have served in active duty for 90 or more days since September 10, 2001.

Some service members are eligible for both the MGIB and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. However, these individuals may only use one education benefits program at a time. As always, there are some caveats, and in some cases, individuals may be able to use the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill after they have exhausted the MGIB. However, those who decide to use the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill first will not be able to use the MGIB. Both of these G.I. Bills pay for many different educational and training programs, including:

  • College, business, technical, or vocational courses
  • Distance learning courses, including correspondence courses
  • Apprenticeship and job training courses (Veterans and reserve only)
  • Flight training
  • Licensing and certification exams

Using the G.I. Bill to Pay For School

Both G.I. Bills can be used to pay for similar education and training programs. However, opting to use one over another may prove advantageous, depending on the scenario. Your location and the amount of time that you served in the military can impact the amount you receive. Consider factors like the type of training you plan to take and the benefits you would receive under each program. For instance, students who enroll in online schools usually find that the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill provides greater benefits than the MGIB. Still, students should make their decisions on a case-by-case basis and evaluate all options. Keep in mind that students who enroll in fully online programs will incur a 50% reduction in their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill living stipend.

G.I. Jobs, a publication for veterans and service members, publishes an annual list of the nation’s top military friendly schools. The best online colleges for G.I. Bill recipients include Fort Hays State University, Colorado Technical University, and Grantham University, according to this list.

Service members should note that MGIB benefits expire 10 years after service members leave the military, while the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill expires 15 years after service members are discharged from the military. Contact the G.I. Bill website, managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, for further information.

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